About the Initiative

For the U.S. arts and culture sector, the Covid-19 pandemic and America’s overdue racial reckoning raised new questions and made some longstanding questions more urgent. Slover Linett and LaPlaca Cohen began working together in early 2020 to develop a national research initiative that would bring both cultural participants and the broader American public into a dialogue about needs, hopes, creativity, equity, and community, to be disseminated as a special, pandemic-era edition of LaPlaca Cohen’s ongoing Culture Track study. The Wallace Foundation provided initial support and has remained a key funder of the initiative, along with other foundations and corporations. In late 2020, Yancey Consulting joined the project team, as the work became more explicitly about informing equity and transformation across the field.

To date, the project has involved two waves of a large-scale online survey, in Spring 2020 and Spring 2021, plus a qualitative study in 2021 involving in-depth interviews with Black adults around the U.S. A range of strategic summaries, policy-level reports, and webinar presentations have been produced and are available here. We have also been commissioned by specific funders to provide “deeper dive” analyses and reports for Massachusetts-based arts organizations and foundations (supported by the Barr Foundation); for the public libraries field (supported by IMLS); and by age/generational differences (for the Aroha Foundation); those findings are also available to all on the Reports page.

Both waves of the quantitative survey have been among the largest studies ever conducted in the arts and culture field in the U.S., thanks to the participation of over 900 cultural enterprises of all types, sizes, and missions that sent one or both survey invitations to their audiences/participants/users/visitors/etc. (In addition, the survey was sent to a representative sample of the U.S. population via our partners at NORC at the University of Chicago.) Although this was not a study of Americans’ relationships to specific cultural organizations, each of the participating organizations received data about their own respondents’ answers, in comparison to the national context. We’re deeply grateful to the staff and leadership at all of those organizations, and we hope the resulting findings and conversations have been (or will be) useful during these times of challenge and change.